Reverb10 – December 21 – Future Self

Prompt: Future self. Imagine yourself five years from now. What advice would you give your current self for the year ahead? (Bonus: Write a note to yourself 10 years ago. What would you tell your younger self?)
Dear Me,
         You know exactly what and where you want to be in five years.  Retired. Now this doesn’t mean you won’t be working a job. Think realistically. But you will not have the day-to-day misery of school administration and legislatures condemning your every move, demanding you do more, and not valuing your insight and knowledge and ability as a teacher.  It doesn’t matter what part-time job you will be doing. Hopefully some kindergarteners somewhere will be playing with you, acting out stories, writing, and creating with abandon. Now is the time to get ready.
         You’re already planning for the shortfall in health insurance when you retire at 59 and not getting Medicare until 65. It may or may not be enough.  You are doing all that you can do.  Let it go.
         You are taking care of yourself. You are back at Weight Watchers. You are going to be there the rest of your life and it is a good thing. Even if you never make lifetime, the weekly meetings keep you in line and give you support. You need the support.  In a way, it’s another form of health insurance. You need it.  Stop moaning about it and accept it. It is the way it is and it’s good for you.
         You are learning new creative ways to express yourself. Remember that it really is all about the process. Take your time and enjoy learning Photoshop and how to develop your own style of digital art. Don’t try to be someone else. Be yourself.  After all, your creations are for you and it’s all about exploring yourself and the world given to you.  Enjoy the process.
         Write. Write. Write. Write.  You are preparing your creative space starting today for writing, jewelry, collage and digital art. Try to keep it simple so you can always have what you need at hand.  Try to be a bit more tidy.  I know you love the Chinese symbol you have hanging on your classroom wall – “Chaos.  From chaos great things are born.”  But you now are working out of a smaller space and you feel better when things have some order.  I know you are a messy creative, but sometimes we have to change. Change is good and you will be the better for it. Get over it. 
         Are you starting to see a pattern here?
         Stop trying to control things that don’t matter.  God has given you a beautiful life. Enjoy it.  That is your job right now and forever. 
-Enjoy your kindergarteners. They love you. Give them your best and forget about the other stuff you can’t control. 
-Take care of yourself physically and the emotional part will ease. Eat right and keep up the support line; walk, you don’t have to be a “Colorado Crazy”, just walk and enjoy Bremen and the beautiful world outside. 
-Play.  Be creative and share it just because.  Not because you are going to get rich or famous or get ooos and ahhhs.  Share it because it means something to you – beautiful or not – light or dark.  It is part of you. People don’t have to understand.
-Love. Love Leroy and Dad and Bremen and every soul you come across on the street.  We are here together and created by the same God, even though we may see Him, or Her, through a different lens.  Enjoy the differences and pray for understanding. 
This is your wise woman speaking. 
Remember that promise you made a few days ago? 
Now, let’s get out there and live!

Reverb10 – December 20 – Beyond Avoidance

Prompt: Beyond avoidance. What should you have done this year but didn’t because you were too scared, worried, unsure, busy or otherwise deterred from doing? (Bonus: Will you do it?)
I’m pooped out from picking problems out of the puddle of this past year’s pests, plagues and predicaments. 
Tonight is a lunar eclipse ringing in the Winter Solstice – something that hasn’t happened, or probably will not happen again, for three hundred years.  
It’s a few days before Christmas and I want to revel in the happiness and anticipation of the day.  It’s a time of awe-inspiring events.  
Sorry, Reverb10, I’m a bit of a rebel so I’m avoiding YOU today.
Bella Luna
I am waiting for the moon.
Clouds spread across my palette
coating its clarity with a milky veil.
But that countenance smiling from above
will not be disheartened.
I am waiting for the promised ocherous globe.
Bella Luna metamorphosing into
a fiery midnight sun,
flaunting a new disposition,
if only for a fleeting spell.
I am waiting for the tenebrous days,
the longest one next to come,
to shorten a gloomy grasp,
rendering radiance to a dusky decline
before slumbering.
I am waiting for burning providence, the Birth.
Rescue from the depths of darkness
by a sweet visage
reminding us of our humanity,
delivering brilliant
new days of hope, again.

Reverb10 – December 19 – Healing

It grew.
Noxious, pestilent
turning and twisting.
Unseen, underground,
wrapping around and through.
Searching for the perfect spot,
the right time,
the vulnerable position to commandeer,
to choke,
to destroy.
Mortal triumph.
The descent.
First, poison to wither, tame,
not eradicate.
Then, masterful hands,
growing life.
Snipping, digging, rooting out
the sardonic grip.
The rains came.
Awakening the stillness,
nurturing, rekindling.
Flushing away the fear.
Her lavender flags,
stately and resilient,
beckoning me back to the soil.
It’s time to plant.
To grow strong.
To be nourished.
To be alive.
Lexanne Leonard
June 2005
            I wrote this poem following a bout with cancer.  The tumor was found as what seemed by accident, yet it I don’t believe it was an accident.  I was lifted up and cared for through the entire process by an amazing husband, loving family, incredible friends, and an army of angels who protected and kept me company the entire time.   This poem tells of my walk through finding the tumor, radiation, surgery by a master who was pregnant at the time, and the spring rains that followed.  The purple iris came from my deceased mother-in-law’s garden.  They bloomed in my garden that spring with her blessing urging me to get back to what I love doing. 
            I’ve never been a very active and physical person, though I was a good walker, loved to ride my bike, and enjoy splashing in a pool.  Following radiation, I’ve had a hard time coming back into “shape.”  But this year made me realize that I must try harder.  This will be seven years when I take my yearly CAT scan in late January.  The form of cancer I had has a tendency to rear its ugly head again 7 to 10 years down the road.  So I am working harder to keep myself healthy.
            This year I joined Weight Watchers, again.  I injured my knee in August and am just now able to walk with ease.  So this Winter Break, I am starting my daily walking again.  I have scar tissue from the radiation and have found that massage is making my sore hips almost a thing of the past.  I also realize that stress plays a big part in my health and I must find ways to conquer the burden.
            I am on my way to a healthier me.  I am losing weight, exercising, and getting regular massages.  I am even learning how to handle the enormous amount of stress in my job by focusing on my writing and other creative endeavors.  And I look forward to good news from my CAT scan in just over a month.  

Reverb10 – December 16, 17 and 18 – Friendship, Lesson Learned, Try

          I fell behind in my writing these past few days. The last week of school before Winter Break is always a crazy time. Christmas is near and when you are five, that is all you can think about. I teach twenty-four kindergarteners and learned many valuable lessons over the years. I learned to adjust my lesson plans for this amazing week in a child’s life. I know that I must remain calm above all else, speak in a quiet voice, and don’t make any quick movements. If I allow myself to show any amount of energy or passion, the little bodies in my room will explode. I am not totally successful in this as I am also feeling the excitement of the season. But I am the adult and should know better. So I now  make valiant attempts to integrate students’ writing into making greeting cards for all their family members. Then I let them go full steam ahead in making their gifts and wrappings for their families using as many varied art supplies and techniques as possible. This is what kindergarten used to be. Exploration. Creation. Developing fine motor skills. Having fun. It is gone from the classrooms of today. We must now teach to the test. Yes, we have to do that even in kindergarten. It is tragic, but that’s what administrators and legislators demand of the classroom teacher. So we must. But this last school week of the year, I stand up for what I think is best for children. I trust in my instincts and revel in the joyful sounds of children at work.

          The first three days of this week are dedicated to making one gift a day. The students can decide who each gift is for, with guidance from me making sure their primary caregivers are taken care of. I use the fourth day, Thursday, to tie up loose ends and the afternoon hour is spent watching a movie, of my choice. This year Leroy handed me “Mary Poppins” as I was rushing out the door. I don’t have a large selection of “new” movies for kids and didn’t have time to borrow one. But I trusted Leroy’s suggestion and pulled out of the driveway with Mary’s umbrella peaking out of my bookbag. I was saddened that only three of my twenty-four had seen Mary. But it was magic watching them discover her. The beginning of the film is a bit slow for today’s audience, but once Mary arrived, it was sheer genius. They were quiet, laughed heartily, and were disappointed when we had to stop before it was finished. They came bustling in on Friday morning begging to finish the movie. As Friday progressed, as always, my little ones found it harder and harder to focus. By the time they came back from P.E. in mid-afternoon, it was hopeless. They were so excited for our class party and to get on with their preparations for the Magic Day, they were no longer listening to me. I am sharing this as my feeble excuse for not writing. I fell asleep around 7:30 each night this week. But as I look back on this post, I see the glimmers of my responses to the last three prompts sprinkled throughout my week.

December 16 – Friendship. How has a friend changed you or your perspective on the world this year? Was this change gradual, or a sudden burst? (Author: Martha Mihalick)

         Leroy, my husband of 31 years, is my best friend. When I’m in a pinch, he is there. Whether it’s making coffee for an early morning or finding the right video, he never lets me loose into the world unarmed. We have grown up together and ventured out into the world as one. We worked together for over thirteen years touring to schools doing plays and workshops for preschool and primary-aged children. I became a teacher just ten years ago and he continues on with the theatre work. It is here that my friend is leading me to change my perspective of our world.

          Last year Leroy began auditioning for “adult” plays. It’s not what you think. I guess I should use the term “grown-up” plays in contrast to the shows he does at the schools. He missed acting for adults and so he auditioned. He was cast. Since that first show, he has either been performing in a play or in rehearsals for the next one without a break. He is amazing and flourishing. Here is where my new perspective comes in. We are no longer working on the same “project.” We are now forging ahead on different paths. This is not to say we are diverging from one another. The opposite is true. We now have things to talk about at dinner since neither of us was with the other all day. We are sharing a new found wonderment of art. We are becoming artists, each in our own way. He is an actor who still writes. I am a teacher who is becoming a writer. His absence, since he is gone most evenings, has forced me to step out of my own comfortable existence and start exploring the world through my pen. We are not straying from one another, but bringing new experiences to the table, enriching each other as individuals and as a couple. The roads we are taking curve and wind and weave together and apart giving us the luxury of experiencing the world in a whole new way.

December 17 – Lesson Learned. What was the best thing you learned about yourself this past year? And how will you apply that lesson going forward? (Author: Tara Weaver)

          This hearkens back to my wise woman musings a few days ago. I am proud that I am taking a stance, small as it is, to believe in myself as a teacher and do what I know is good for my students, at least occasionally. I am listening to that wise woman. I need to do it more, in all aspects of my life.

It took a trip into the mountains and knee injury to make me realize I am my wise woman in all I do. I will listen to her with a more focused ear. I will trust her because she doesn’t make ridiculous decisions. She may not always make the perfect decision, but it will be hers and hers to own. And she needs to take herself much less seriously and enjoy the life that has been given, a wonderful and beautiful life.

December 18 – Try. What do you want to try next year? Is there something you wanted to try in 2010? What happened when you did / didn’t go for it? (Author: Kaileen Elise)

          Oh, this is easy. I am going to continue to write for me. When I get into the mindset of wanting my work to “go somewhere”, I start to feel it as a burden. When I want my plays to be produced or win contests, I get depressed because that never happens. But when I sit down and read what I’ve written, it’s almost as though I can’t remember writing it. I surprise myself sometimes that I could write with such words. It makes me happy that I can create with just little marks on a screen. But that is only the beginning.

          I took two classes last year to continue my growth as a writer. One was how to use Photoshop Elements. The other was with the Center for Digital Storytelling to make a story into a short movie. Mix those two together with being inspired by two friends – Deb Daley and Ken Crost – who work in digital photography creating beautiful pieces, and I am on my way to learn how to combine my writing with digital art. I will simply be posting this work on my blog as my way of sharing. I love creating.

          One more thing…I will continue to meet every week with the Wednesday Afternoon Writers. These friends amaze me with their courage to share their writing each week. Don’t tell them this, but I’m going to encourage us to create a Facebook page to share our work. Shhh! I don’t want to scare them away, but I think we’re ready for it.

Reverb10 – December 15 – 5 Minutes

What this year offered me was a simple clearing, a realization.  I will remember who I found as I searched for answers.  She appeared to me at a retreat in early August during a guided mediation.  In the past when I did visualization exercises leading into meditation, I was invited to find my spirit guide.  During this process, it was usually requested that I see her face in vivid detail and hear her speak and follow her to my mediation spot.  I always nailed the spot.  I can bring it up in a whiff of a second.  It was the spirit guide I couldn’t describe.  It was as though I couldn’t let myself believe in the process.  I could only acknowledge a shadow of a being.  But this year we made our rendezvous.   As I closed my eyes, the leader asked me to greet my wise woman and listen to her.  And there she was.  I finally saw her face.  I heard her speak.  She surprised me.  My wise woman is myself.  I saw my face and heard my voice.  I didn’t need to follow anyone to my place of peace.  I walked there on my own.

December 15 – 5 Minutes. Imagine you will completely lose your memory of 2010 in five minutes. Set an alarm for five minutes and capture the things you most want to remember about 2010. (Author: Patti Digh)

Reverb10 – December 14 – Appreciate

The first loosening of the rope
Snaring the fear, the ego, the pain,
brings a gasp.
At first, free fall is frightening.
These first few moments shock,
Then the wind lifts my heart.
I begin to glide.
I see the pain below me, just out of reach.
Fear now spreads so thin
I simply push through to the other side.
Ego still calls with an exacting voice,
Demanding to be right.
Clamoring to be seen.
Summoning what is owed.
But the rope is unbound
And slips slyly out of reach.
Buoyed by the breath,
Lungs filled with life,
I smile at the sorrow
once demanding my attention,
not needing to draw it near me,
nor keep it close.
Reveling in beauty,
laughing with the magic,
I praise the wonders I have been given.

December 14 – Appreciate. What’s the one thing you have come to appreciate most in the past year? How do you express gratitude for it? (Author: Victoria Klein)

Reverb10 – December 13 – Action

         I am on my way.  Thanks to Reverb10.  I made the commitment to write every day.  I’m doing it.  Okay, yesterday is questionable.  But I made a few people laugh.  Thank you Susan, Amy and Terra for humoring me.  I’ve never been happier.  I can’t wait to write each day and read the writing of my friends on their blogs.  So I have a great beginning.  I know what’s next.
         I need to build stamina in my writing.  Writing everyday is a start but I need to extend this writing time.  So here’s my plan:
         School is done for me this Friday.  With the exception of a Solstice celebration on Sunday with a group of my favorite crazy women who will eat, create Winter masks, and simply celebrate being goddesses, humor me here, too, my break will be dedicated to fixing up my office so I can do all of my creating there. I will have space for writing, photography, jewelry, and collage work, but mostly, writing.
         I will have a beautiful space to write.  Oh, and I will keep ALL school stuff out of the creation space.  This is the next step of my plan.  I must learn how to let go of school and have a personal life.  I’ve been a totally dedicated teacher for the past nine years with little attention to me.  I need balance. 
Well, I’ve found my passion, something that defines me.  I am a writer.  I have plays and stories and novels and poems filling the corners of my brain, waiting patiently for their time to speak.  I’m going to give them a voice.
The final step in this beginning process is to not overwhelm myself.  Be simple in goals and vision.  Be dedicated.  Love every minute of it.  I can do this.
December 13 – Action. When it comes to aspirations, it’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen. What’s your next step? (Author: Scott Belsky)

Reverb10 – December 11 – 11 Things

I begin my list…
11 Things My Life Doesn’t Need
Stuff gathering dust, clogging the closets, piling on my desks
Malevolence and pain entwined, gagging my soul
Rejection, imagined or not
Too much frenzy spent at work
Too much hoopla trying to do the “right thing”
Not enough fervor doing what I want to do
Not knowing what I want to do
11 is too easy
I can go on
In perpetuum
I am a list maker
It is an obsession
It doesn’t help  
11 can be small
Like a kindergartener
Holding up two fingers
One on one hand
One on the other
Sliding them together
To make 11
Or is it two?
I begin my list…
One plus one is two
Easier to discern, lighter to hold
One in one hand
One in the other
One to loosen, the other to draw near
Each constant, necessary
One plus one is two balancing precariously
Relinquishing the ego
Surrendering to Him

December 11 – 11 Things What are 11 things your life doesn’t need in 2011? How will you go about eliminating them? How will getting rid of these 11 things change your life? (Author: Sam Davidson)

Reverb10 – December 10 – Wisdom

From deep inside where demons and dreams reside,
a vision seeks to be poured onto a page,
not with paint or colors, but words.
My words.
Quieting my anxious self,
Releasing perfection to allow an escape,
they surface on the screen
as if by some magician’s alchemy.
At times, they stare at me
in gratitude of liberation,
issued from my being
to linger elsewhere.
But mostly they smile,
Winking a challenge.
Prodding me beyond complacency,
appealing for more.
I chose to write,
a wise and wondrous employment.
I now keep company with words
And give them a place to dwell.

December 10 – Wisdom Wisdom. What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how did it play out? (Author: Susannah Conway)